NDP candidates Michele McCleave-Kennedy (Sault Ste. Marie) and Michael Mantha (Algorma-Manitoulin) gathered on the boardwalk early Tuesday morning to announce their funding commitment to keep the Huron Central Railway operating, in order to protect and create jobs in the Sault and across Algoma Manitoulin. This comes after the railway announced they would have to stop operations due to lack of adequate funding from the Liberal government.
“We want to reaffirm our commitment that we had made for short-rail here across this province. We’ve heard the recent news from Huron Central that they are in financial crisis in regards to getting the province to listen to their message, and making sure that the investments are done on the short-rail between Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury,” Mantha stated.
He continued by explaining that the funding commitment will consist of $4 million per year for the next five years, as well as an additional $25 million each year during their term in office, that will be allocated to “a real Northern rail strategy; making sure that rail is returned, along with reintroducing the Northlander in Northern Ontario.”
The Northlander was a passenger train that was operated by the Ontario Northland Railway. It operated from 1976 until it was closed on Sept. 28, 2012.
McCleave-Kennedy said keeping this railway open is important to protect jobs and the steel market.
“Huron Central’s railway to Sudbury is a lifeline for Algoma to get its products to market,” she explained. “Without the line, the steel mill will lose an essential part of its production operation. We need all of the seven thousand spinoff jobs here in Sault Ste. Marie. The NDP supports all those jobs here in Sault Ste. Marie, and we’ll fight to keep those jobs here.”
According to Mantha, The impacts of not having the short-rail here include:
- Adding approx. 30 thousand more heavy-equipment trucks to the roads
- Creating more accidents
- More wear and tear on the roads
- More expenses for Ontarians rather than the investment that is needed and is real
He went on to say that the changes and lack of investment from the present government will affect communities, such as Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Espanola, etc.
“This present government has had deaf ears on the present request by Huron Central. We are committed to doing this; we have been , and we will be when we form government as an NDP government, along with Andrea Horwath.”
Local MP Terry Sheehan, a member of the Liberal party, sent out a press release, in which he stated:
“I have communicated with Mr. Louis Gravel about this situation multiple times, including recently, where I indicated that Genesee & Wyoming needs to secure its 50% of the funding. We discussed funding options the company could pursue including self-funding all or a portion of its share, the Province of Ontario, and other private/public sector funding.”
McCleave-Kennedy explained to SaultOnline that the funding for this commitment is coming from the NDPs fiscal plans.
“It’s been costed out as how the NDP will look at different strategies to bring industry back to Sault Ste. Marie, as well as tourism. So we need the rail in the North to keep everything viable and get products to market.”